One life to live #39: Got to play to win

The server’s are running smoother, logins happen quickly and we’ve had a decent amount of time to truly experience what Diablo 3 has to offer. So does it stack up?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t relate my launch day woes. It started two days before launch with my motherboard dying, not wanting to sink money into a new machine, I had it repaired and was told to expect it back by Wednesday. After some panic, sweat, and maybe some tears I was able to grab my work computer and give that a try. I knew I was in for trouble when downloading was a chore. Installation wasn’t much better with two failures. Finally after all that the graphics card wasn’t supported. After a few changes in the Dxpref log I was able to get in…at 15fps.

So my launch night was rough and slow but before I went to work that morning I had a level 4 Hardcore Witch doctor waiting for me to get home( and a Wife and child too). Now that I have my computer back and I’m slowly trudging through act 2 I can really see what this game is, and look at it with a new perspective.

First This game is amazing. I find myself not even thinking about levels, or skills, but just moving from zone to zone to kill stuff for the hell of it. It’s sad that the servers have become a focal point of what is a truly great game, and hopefully over the next few weeks we can forget it.

Hardcore is a small community and D3 isn’t fostering it right now. Hardcore public games are limited and desolate. I suspect a lot of people are going through Hardcore solo not wanting to place their life in another’s hands. I’ve had a few close calls already and adding extra health and damage would have not helped that. Also the Game seems a bit more difficult than in the beta, that or I’m extra cautious now that I’m really losing something. Hopefully in a few weeks once most people have done regular on soft core we will see a injection into the community.

Lastly one bit of good/bad news. The Death screen has been updated!If you recall in the beta it simply read “you have died” now it says:

If you find yourself staring at a screen like that above feel free to head over to our new Hardcore Graveyard forum. I submitted many back while I was a reader during D2 and I expect to be filling out a few for D3 just hopeful not yet.

One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

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21 thoughts on “One life to live #39: Got to play to win

  1. So sorry to hear about your toon’s passing.

    PS: You made a mistake in the pick. You meant to say you’re not your 😀 

  2. Rushed level 10 with a barb on 15 may and JUST finished normal hardcore with my level 32 Demon Hunter.  🙂

  3. Thanks for the write up.  Leaving hardcore until I settle on a class.  I’ve rolled a DH and a Barb so far and both have had survivability issues.  The DH is my fault, I’ve min/maxed Vit/Dexterity to the point that the DH is a glass cannon.  

    My wife has excellent survivability with a WD, and this has only increased since she unlocked the Gargantuan.

    As for server stability on the east coast US, I have been able to play any time I have wanted except between 300 and 410 on launch day and until 1000 yesterday (called out of work sick!)  My ping has been between 100 and 200ms 90% of the time, the other 10% has been ping around 320ms, but due to the server simply verifying there has been zero noticeable lag which is impressive because 100% of my play time has been co-op. 

  4. This game is definitely hard, but not quite as hard as I expected so far. I just got to NM A3 and have died a combined total of three times. Once in normal A1 to a waller (and a really, really bad white weapon that needed an upgrade). Another time in NM A1 to my first arcane enchanted. Most recently my entire group of friends were wiped out by a frozen desecrator pack in a narrow tunnel. Frozen + static AOE = easy death. Be REALLY careful there guys!
    Also yes, WD seems by far the most survivable, and is what I’ve been playing. I agree with RyTEK. You can use your gargantuan to easily gauge how much damage output a champion pack is capable of and run away accordingly. Sacrifice is also excellent at severely damaging many packs, cutting the fight time to about half (unless they have extra health), especially if you get lucky with the 35% resurrect chance rune and blow up the entire zombie dog pack twice.

    To clarify, I’m playing in SC (yes yes, not here to argue). But I am playing pretty defensively. It’s why I’ve only died three times. I can imagine if I were loading out for damage or playing another class it’d probably be a lot higher.
    As far as server stability goes, I have never had problems with the Americas servers. Though I will admit that is probably because I slept through launch night, played 1.5 hours in the morning, then went to work just before the big downtime, and came home right as they went back up. Then I went to bed right before the second big downtime at 11:30 p. I think I’ve “lost” a total of about a half-hour of play. But I suppose YMMV, and I’m sorry to everyone who had a less-than-fun time with the servers. 🙁

    • If you say you passed The Butcher without dying once, you are a dirty liar. I just reached him and in five minutes and ten attempts I’ve died ten times. I have absolutely no idea what to do with him. 

      • What class are you playing?  In the mean time, avoid the grappling hook and watch for the signs of the floor lighting up with fire beneath your feet.

        • Wizard. Funny thing is, before him, I only died once, and I haven’t had any problems, but once I got to him, it was like hitting a brick wall. I gave up and I’ll try later tonight.

          • I can relate.  I started with a Wizard and was never in a position where I needed a defensive skill.  Now I used Wave of Force, but always used it offensively.  I had tried Frost Nova and Diamond Skin when they became available, but they didn’t do any damage and I deemed them worthless, especially Diamond Skin as I saw Frost Nova’s AoE freezing as being more valuable, and at the time I wasn’t getting any use out of Frost Nova.  Frost Nova was basically a hot-key I never used.  Then I got to the Butcher and was insta-killed.  I was totally unprepared for the mechanics of the encounter.  I remember staring at the death-screen thinking what the hell just happened. 

            After collecting myself, I went back in, and although I lasted longer the second time, I still got owned and was left staring at the death-screen thinking wtf.  At this point, I logged out and started contemplating what I needed to do to win the encounter.  And after some thought, Diamond Skin jumped out at me as not being worthless after all.  However, as I already posted in the this thread, while I was able to complete Act 1 and move on to Act 2, Act 2 proved to be too much for my brand-spanking-new Wizard.  Unexpected, but nice to see.  I for one am glad D3 has some teeth.  I’m tired of video games that require zero skill, forethought, or planning.  Yes there is place and time for these types of games, but not in an ARPG.

          • I’m playing as a wizard too and I didn’t die in either normal or nightmare when facing the butcher. What skills are you using against him?

            @fulcrum89…  The Butcher was not hard after I was prepared for it.  I never expected Mortal Combat and Mario Brothers mechanics to be part of the battle.  My first death was pretty much an insta-kill.  I attacked the Butcher as I did the Skeleton King and everything else that lead up to the Butcher, and in what seemed like 5 seconds I was dead.  I was in a party, I drew the aggro, I took a couple hits followed by being grappled and slammed with his axe.  Game over.  At this point, I wasn’t in there long enough to know the floor lit up with fire too.  So, the second time I was in there I got owned by the flaming floor.  I got hit hard, used a potion, and retreated, but it was to an area of the floor that lit up like a barbeque – one that I cound not escape in time.  Game over again.

            After taking Diamond Skin, watching the grappling hook and floor, the battle was not any more difficult than fighting the Skeleton King.

      • I never died with my Barbarian against The Butcher, but I died once against Act 2 Boss.

      • Move around, a lot. I pretty much fire off something, move, fire off something, move. This way if he fires a hook to grab you in, most of the time you’ll already be moving out of the way. Be aware of the glow for the fire and stay away. The portion of the arena on fire at any time increases as his health goes down so towards the end you have to be paying attention. Don’t discount vitality as a stat; I place it tied with my primary stat in importance, with armor at a similar level.
        This isn’t like D2 anymore, and it isn’t about beating the boss as fast as possible while taking the punishment. Now avoiding attacks is far more important, all the while whittling away at the boss.

  5. My highest level D2 hardcore character was lvl 4.   I just never was that into it.   I’m trying to play D3 with my wife but this week has been hell for her at work.  Too tired to play.  So while I try not to play past the skelly king, (so that we experience new content together) I’ve had nothing to do but roll characters and see what they are about.  Yesterday I decided to roll a hardcore and chose the Wizard as I hadn’t rolled one yet.   

    It is definitely as nerve racking as I imagined it and as you all have described.  I beat skelly king pretty easily. (tho it took a while)  Dinged lvl 10 when he died.  

    I had several close calls.  I found a waller in lvl 2 of Den of the Fallen.  I’m not sure I came close to dying to them but it was really nerve racking.  Waller in tight spaces is pretty bitchin.  I can’t even imagine what something like Waller/other combos is going to be like.  

    My closest calls were to 2 different champion grotesques.  Both times they managed to corner me.  One group was teleport variety.  I think I may have lagged a little as I tried to run around them to clear myself of the corner only to warp back to the corner.  Having 4 grotesques explode around you sucks big time.  I fortunately pushed the potion button at just the right moment as for a brief moment I did see the screen flash red.  

    Another grotesque champ pack did pretty much the same thing.  Cornered me into an entrance way.  It’s odd cuz I know that getting cornered is a really bad idea but somehow I’ve been cornered twice.    I think these ones were knockback and thats how I got knocked back and briefly stunned into entrance right when they exploded.   Luckily, they dropped a fair few health globes as I didn’t even notice my health go down.  

    I also had an incident where I ran into side by side champ packs.  I forget what they were but fighting 2 champ packs at once is harrowing.  Was pretty cool.  No chance to engage the groups one at a time.  I inched my way forward and both engaged me.   Took my health a bit below 50% but I pulled out of it smiling.  

    I’ll say one thing.  Health globes is the best thing ever.   My brief time in T2 beta shows me that right away.  Potion spamming just isn’t fun.  Having to strategically fight and hope for globes is pretty bad ass.  Not using them right away so you can grab it when you need it or the feeling of “oh thank god a health globe”.   It really added a ton to this game.  Especially for such a simple idea.

    So looking forward to tomorrow for my first all day gaming session.  I’ve been a good boy this week and made sure I still got my work done.  (I work at home, so its REALLY tempting to play all damn day)   

  6. I cant imagine playing hardcore right now, way too many random/cheap/unexpected ways to quickly die.

  7. Retail definitely increased the game difficulty in the starting areas up to the Skeleton King.  While this was a nice surprise I was still a little concerned about D3’s difficulty, that is, until I reached the Butcher.  Going up against the Butcher for the first time, that was a wake-up call.  I was woefully unprepared for this battle and needless to say, got owned.

    After realizing defensive skills were required, I dispatched the Butcher and moved on to Act 2.  However, I soon discovered my Wizard had survivability issues even with having defensive skills.  I tried several different combinations of everything to try and come up with something that worked.  After 5 deaths in a short period of time I shelved my Wizard and started a Witch Doctor.  I came to the conclusion that I needed better equipment to run a Wizard through the game.  It also occurred to me that maybe I just suck and need the protection of some pets while learning to deal with the various combinations of the monster AI.  So two birds with one stone, or maybe 3, as I wanted to play a Witch Doctor anyway.  I had a hard time choosing between Wizard and Witch Doctor for my first character.  Seems I chose wrong.  Live and learn.

    At any rate, I’m nearing the end of Act 2 with my Witch Doctor and loving the game difficulty.  No deaths with him yet, though I realize this statement means nothing if not playing hardcore.

  8. The saddest part about your post to me was the beginning: “The server’s are running smoother…”  I’m (Diablo moodlighting) green with envy that you have any evidence they are running smoother.
    After losing my first HC wizard to lag, I’ve limped my second HC wizard to level 10.  I move 8 yards, the game flutters and I’m back into the original position.  Lag is 280-390ms in town.  Fighting monsters it often jumps to 750ms, sometimes as high as 1500ms.  When I can describe my lag in seconds, that is not good for hardcore.  (And no, it isn’t my connection.  I get 50-75ms lag in every other online game I play.)
    If I cast something like Ray of Frost, my character puts out her hands but nothing happens.  Then a second later the beam starts.  But by that time the champion/rare/whatever is on top of me. 
    It is completely unplayable.  I understand it is worse in the evenings but I work so evenings is when I can play.  Or attempt to play.  For now I just get annoyed reading about things like the Butcher and this mythical thing called Act II that I’ve never seen.  And no, I won’t play SC to see those things.  I’ve been playing Tera while I wait for something to change. 

    • People often exaggerate things.  Not saying you are, but I have never experience the lag you were speaking of.  Also, even if you have 400ms lag, the way D3 was designed (unless changed) was to keep most things client side, while syncing with server in smaller doses, thus a 400ms lag won’t be like a 400ms lag in a first person shooter game.

      Also, you don’t have to play softcore at all, but you have to take the risks that come with HC.  One of them is not being able to experiement much without risks.  I am assuming you are using followers, vit is just as important as your int.  Armor is linked to dmg reduction, so it is important.  A shield with high % block is very important as well. 

    • make sure you aren’t doing anything else heavy on the network.  Not saying that you don’t have legit lag.  Just that its a good thing to check.   No big downloads, ESPECIALLY no uploads (torrent programs must be turned off.)
      I was playing last night and on my other machine told it to sync my ipad (wirelessly).   My Latency hit red so fast I couldn’t believe it.  Didn’t realize doing that could kill my local wireless network so thoroughly.  
      As for the servers running smoothly, my 10 hours or so have been pretty much flawless.  I think I got disconnected only once and that was on Wednesday night. 

  9. when i finally did get the chance to sit down, download and play. I can assure you I had next to no problems. only was disconnected once after 4 hours.

    i started playing the night of the 16th, which was i think wednesday. literally, everything was smooth and quick. 

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